The FBI investigation into the noose found in Bubba Wallace’s NASCAR garage last weekend has concluded that the noose had been hanging in the garage since at least October of 2019, long before anyone could have known Wallace would be assigned that garage for last weekend’s race.
The investigation suggests a few things, the most important of which is that it’s highly unlikely any member of Bubba Wallace’s team was involved in hanging or otherwise placing a noose in their garage, which was a popular pet theory among weird racists.
Racing teams are often assigned garage space at venues a few weeks ahead of the race when traveling, given the touring nature of the NASCAR season.
That also must mean the same organization who took turns hugging Bubba on TV on Monday worked around a noose hanging in a garage for nine months, and somebody had to tie it.
Wallace himself is still furious about the situation, as we all should be, making the excellent point that there was still a fucking noose hanging in a NASCAR garage stall for nine months before anybody thought there was anything weird about it. Responding to people who are using this as yet another opportunity to attack him, Wallace said “I’m pissed. I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am, and my integrity.”
Here’s the driver’s reaction to the FBI investigation, and his side of the story:
Wallace says he was headed out to dinner with fellow racers when he got a call he’d never forget from NASCAR President Steve Phelps. One alarming note is that Wallace immediately thought that such a call meant that he’d done something wrong. When he met Phelps, the look on his face told him everything: “Tears rolling down his face, choked up on every word, that the evidence he’d brought to me that a ‘hate crime’ was committed against me.”
Here’s more details on the FBI’s findings, from CNN’s report:
NASCAR, mentioning the FBI report, described the item as a “garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose.”
“The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.”
It should be noted that, as an organization with a long history of harming Black people, the FBI is not necessarily a reliable authority on crimes against Black people. The organization who harassed and surveilled Martin Luther King, Jr for years, has determined that this is a harmless, non-hate-crime noose.
Somebody with access to this garage still fashioned a noose, knowing there is a Black driver in the sport, knowing there are multiple Black and other People of Color who could take offense to the sight of a noose.
And it was perceived as a threat, exactly as any noose is intended. After Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the series, successfully pushed for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag, he just happens to get a garage with the noose in it?
And it’s also worth noting that the entire NASCAR organization seemed to believe that someone hanging a noose in Wallace’s garage with the intention of threatening him, even with the track in a state of relative lockdown, was totally plausible if not likely.
Regardless, someone’s actions forced the world to pay attention and rally around Bubba, and as much as NASCAR would like to let that be the memory, this investigation and especially the “fan” response to it, only proves they’ve still got some big fucking problems to sort out.
The pain and anguish, the overwhelming emotion Wallace showed ahead of Monday’s race is still real. The pain we all felt watching the teams walk with him, the pain we feel with the daily wave of headlines of police violence and the overwhelming, persistent racism in our world is all still very real. The need for change is real.
There is a big part of the NASCAR community that would like to send Bubba Wallace and those like his a clear, threatening message. Him and anyone like him.